Filling the House with Family

How many members of your family – or your spouse’s family – have you crammed into your home in one day, one evening or one weekend? The most relatives I have ever hosted for dinner was 32, and Holiday meals at my house average 25 people. I have hosted parties for family or friends with dozens of people too. But how many of these relatives have stayed at your house overnight?

Each year, throughout the summer, my husband, David, and I host a ton of close family who are visiting from overseas. So, when I say we “host” I mean we cram in various family members for days at a time into our house. David’s family lives all over the world, from faraway places like Israel and New Zealand to various towns in Ontario like Peterborough and London. Their main destination is the family’s beloved country home in Saint-Donat, Quebec (details on that house coming in a future post). But they also enjoy some big-city fun, BBQ steak and a visit to our home while they are in Canada.

Once in a while we will host a few relatives, but usually when one plans a visit they line up behind him or her and come along too. In the summer of 2014, just after we moved into our current home, I believe we crammed 12 or 13 people into the house for four days. I had people sleeping on couches, a futon, a couple of beds and even the floor. There were toys, clothes and scraps of food everywhere. My fridge overflowed with food and emptied every few hours, and we gave our stove and oven a good workout. There was screaming and whispering and tears and laughter.

Hugs from cousins visiting a few years ago – who again visited us this past week

This week was the start of our annual summer hosting of David’s family, and this weekend we were a rowdy group of 8 people in the house. We made full use of our spacious home, with people sleeping on the futon, a couch, beds and even the floor. I cooked from all the food groups, starting with a huge steak and chicken BBQ dinner on Friday night, and the festivities came to a crescendo Sunday night with my first-ever attempt at fish and chips.

We always need a photo when cousins arrive at our house, as we did this week
Eating fish and chips in the backyard last night

Family will continue to arrive and depart Canada in the coming weeks, and most of them will make a stop at our house. Next weekend David’s sisters are joining us, then a few days later his brother arrives. Each guest is different, and as is the case with all of us (including me, David and our children!), everyone has their quirks. Some are cleaner and tidier than others, some are loud while others are quiet, but one thing is clear – they all like to eat!

Now don’t get me wrong – I enjoy hosting family, and I love to cook for a crowd. In particular, I like to cook for a crowd who appreciates food and like to eat. David and I look forward to the summer visits from various relatives, and we carefully plan our menus, sleeping arrangements and activities. But of course, it’s a lot of work, especially when our house is crammed with people for days.

This weekend’s relatives have moved on to other destinations and for a few days the house is quiet with only me, David and our girls at home. We will open our home again this coming weekend to family, find various places for them to sleep and fill the fridge with wondrous delights. Then we will come up for air, jump back in for another weekend, until it’s our turn to make our way to Saint-Donat and join the throngs of family along the shores of Lake Archembault.

July is almost over and as usual summer is flying by too fast. It’s nice to know that we can always count on visits from family to enrich the season. We feel blessed to have a large family who actually want to spend time together year after year, and we look forward to hosting them for years to come.

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